An interview with Sensei Cyril Cummins

Interviewed by Yvonne Skalban 6th Kyu

Yvonne_SkalbanHow did you first get into karate?

I killed someone! (laughs) No, I saw a film called “Mondo Cane”. It’s a film about different rituals in different countries, for  example, the Ghurkas cutting the head off an ox with a single blow, and, of course, the Japanese sensei have always inspired me, seeing Kanazawa sensei performing tameshiwari, breaking wood, in early 1964.

Was there ever a point where you thought about quitting karate?

No, not really. Obviously it’s something that goes through your mind sometimes, but you just shrug it off. You know, everybody thinks that at some point about work and everything else, that’s normal. But no, I wouldn’t have quit and if I had, I wouldn’t be here for you now!

One of the things I love about training is that the advice you give us often applies in everyday situations, the best example being “Never give up, never give in”. If I have a bad day, that’s what I remind myself of and then I feel stronger and more optimistic again. Has karate done the same for you? 

Oh, definitely. If I am teaching it and saying it, I am going to have to believe it. Enoeda Sensei always told us that. Never give up, never give in.

Is there any other advice you have for us karateka, maybe something that has helped you personally?

Always be focussed on what you are doing. And try your best. Karate can be very hard sometimes, but you must keep going. Hence, never give up, never give in!

What is the best and the worst memory of your karate career?

The best and the worst? That’s hard to say, there have been so many things over the last 50 years! I think one of the highlights was achieving my 5th Dan. It was just after the national championships at Crystal Palace. And the examiners were the top Japanese instructors, including Master Enoeda. I don’t have any bad memories, really! I guess the only thing is the injuries.

Thank you very much for the interesting interview, Sensei! Oss!